7 Things to Consider Before Moving an Aging Parent Into Your Home
When your aging parent doesn’t want to or is no longer able to live alone, your home is one option for relocation. A multigenerational arrangement can provide a joyful bonding opportunity, as well as the chance for everyone in the house to know your parent in a new way. Mom or Dad may also be able to avoid the feeling of isolation and depression common among older adults who live alone.
Even with these positives, unexpected difficulties can arise in even the closest loving relationships. Lifestyle, personality and values change throughout our lives, and a new addition to the dynamic of your household is sure to impact many aspects of daily living. It is crucial for you, your parent and your entire family to consider and discuss a variety of important aspects about this move ahead of time to help ensure the smoothest transition possible.
What type and amount of care will be required?
Since a move into your home is often catalyzed by a health crisis or chronic illness, it is important you gain a clear understanding of that illness. You’ll need to fully understand both current and future care needs as things progress over the first several months to a year and beyond. Sometimes living in your home is a viable solution only for interim care until the condition worsens and eventually requires Assisted Living or Memory Care.
Can you provide the necessary care?
Caring for your parent is a great way to return the love and nurturing he or she gave you in the past. Be sure to speak with the doctor to determine if the required level of assistance is realistic for you to perform, and remember this will likely increase as time passes. Also, consider whether your schedule allows the time and energy to take on these tasks and if you have someone else in the home to assist you.
If your parent will need help, now or in the future, with daily activities like toileting and bathing, are you both comfortable with you being the person to perform these tasks? If the answer is no, you may be able to hire in-home help to perform these duties.
Do you have adequate space to ensure everyone’s privacy?
Consider the physical arrangements of everyone living in your home. Will there be adequate privacy for both your parent and your own family, or will you need to take on the expense of a remodel? Is there a private area in your home that could be converted to an in-law suite, such as the garage or side porch? If you will need an additional bathroom or bedroom, be sure to factor in the cost.
What safety considerations are necessary?
If your home will not require significant renovations, you still may need to upgrade or install safety features to make things senior-friendly. Consider grab bars in bathrooms near the tub, shower and toilet, wheelchair-accessible toilets or walk-in tubs. Depending on your situation, a ramp or railing may be necessary at your entrance and in hallways, and you’ll want to ensure floors have sufficient non-skid rugs to avoid slipping and tripping. For night walking, be sure there is adequate space and lighting to safely get to the bathroom and a way for your parent to alert you should he or she need something, often via mobile device or an intercom system.
What will be the financial impact on you and your immediate family?
Experts say the expenses of becoming an in-home caregiver are often greater than most people anticipate. Home remodeling projects and safety upgrades can add up, and you may need to change your work schedule or even stop working.
Consider if some of your parent’s income can be applied toward living expenses. Can they pay rent or help with the renovation costs to get your home ready for them? If you have any siblings, can they help with these costs? Research whether you or your parent qualify for any government or local assistance programs, and you may even be able to get paid if you are caring for someone eligible for Medicaid and living in a state with a Medicaid care program or caring for a U.S. military veteran.
What lifestyle changes will be expected of everyone involved?
Make sure everyone in your home is supportive of the move-in plan, and be clear about expectations and rules. There may be sacrifices and extra responsibilities, so be sure to consider and discuss all aspects of multigenerational living with your spouse and children, as well as with your parent. This includes noise levels, television locations and viewing times, food preferences, chores and much more. Will everyone be compatible and flexible? Most importantly, how will you handle conflict when it comes up?
Will your parent have access to a peer network?
You can assist your parent in adjusting to new living arrangements by helping locate the nearest bank, recreational facility, church or pharmacy. Social opportunities with peers are paramount to avoiding your parent’s sense of isolation, so help him or her find independent daytime options at a nearby senior center. If a higher level of care is required, you may look into adult day care centers offering therapeutic services, rehabilitation and more. Don’t forget to plan breaks for yourself by checking out respite care or companion services.